Wednesday, November 28, 2007

baking and waltzes

To make up for not taking much vacation this year, I have the next 4 Mondays off (oh, and a whole week in the middle). This week was my first Monday and it was fabulous. I had already pledged to buy handmade and even purchased a few gifts from Etsy, but there were some stuffed cookies that wouldn't ship to Canada. So, after a good clean up of my small workspace, I put aside all the bird drawings and conceptual pieces to make room for some Christmas gift making. Inspired by these Etsy sellers, I made Sadie a half dozen cookies, complete with sprinkles and beads. It was the most wonderful way to spend the afternoon, quietly handstitching the cookie tops and reacquainting myself with my wool scraps. I also listened to an older Cowboy Junkies album, Rarities, B Sides and Slow, Sad Waltzes but it was anything but sad. I did shed a tear or two but the message of all the songs seemed to be that the things we say are important, and that love can be forgotten if you don't acknowledge it or spend time tending to it. One song was inspired by a story (forgive me, I'm forgetting all the details) of a man who, when he lost his wife late in life, filled their apartment with cardboard hearts and other obsessive amounts of kitschy items. He loved and missed her so much that he surrounded himself with these unique reminders. Anyway, it was the perfect album for a perfect afternoon. And a nice start to the holiday season.

But why cookies? Well, Sadie likes to bake banana bread with me, so I thought a baking theme might be fun. She's very good at stirring and she doesn't get bored anytime during the process. Now I've started a purple apron ("purple's my fravrite colour Mommy!") so she can dress the part too.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

the december debate

The holiday season is never easy in our house, and already this year is no exception. But I deserve a newsflash: when you pair two artists from two different cultures and religions and then those two people create a darling little girl who happens to be the sum of all parts, well, how exactly is December supposed to work? I stress the artist part because this probably accounts for the main source of frustration - an inherent need to NOT do the things everyone else is doing. For Jay it's even easier; Christmas has never been in his book at all, so whenever December gets close it's my expectations that I have to come to terms with. And believe me, I come from a family who loves, loves, loves Christmas. Not the baby Jesus variety, because our house was religiously non-religious, but the variety where you put fake trees up at the very beginning of December and outdoor lights are a serious business. My Grandmother was the Queen of Christmas; one year her house was even photographed for a double page spread in the newspaper (she decorated with red velvet and white year round, but at Christmas the white trees and dozen miniature villages came out in full glory). So, I come by my inner desire to decorate and celebrate Christmas quite honestly, but I am prone to wanting to do things different and I also have trouble with consumerism. So what's a girl to do?

Well, a girl finds ways to balance this sensitive time, though with life at the current pace, sitting down and coming up with good strategies is challenging. But I have made one decision, and it feels like a good start. I've always made as many gifts as I can, but since I'm short on time, I've decided to Buy Handmade this season. The only exception will be books, because there is no equivalent and I'm just too strong a believer in the written word. The best part though? It's hardly a struggle - I mean, here I am spending glorious pockets of time looking through Etsy shops and it doesn't even count as procrastination! Happily I have already ordered from these fantastic folks at CircaCeramics in Chicago and also Cyberoptix TieLab.
If the thought interests you, here's where people are pledging. I love that people come together and organize such a thing. Peace and joy, right? Oh, and if anyone has some great strategies for keeping December peaceful I would be ever-so-thankful for the sharing. Especially Christmas tree alternatives...I've run out of room in the yard to plant live shrubs and my dead branches in a bucket of sand is just too tantalizing for Glen Miller.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

something black

Funny, but I'm still a little shocked that I knit this sweater. I started, never got bored, and actually finished it. And the even bigger shock? I've worn it. Multiple times.
Yes, I've knit two sweaters before this, but both have problems that keep me from wearing them (though I have black dye now, so only laziness keeps me from fixing the problem with my Sahara). But really, a black cardigan with one button and raglan sleeves? There is just nothing more perfect in my book. I worked from Knit and Tonic's "Something Red" pattern and modified the body. Instead of ribbing from the bust down I borrowed the shaping from Sahara and made a band of ribbing just along the bottom. The shaping makes the sweater fit me just so, with a nice waistline close to the button height. I actually bound off shorter sleeves but realized long sleeves would be more practical, so without the slightest hesitation I went back and changed them. I even have wool left over and using Misti Pima Cotton was really economical. Three cheers all around.
(Final details: I used 4.25 bamboo circulars and DPNs which gives the Misti a nice dense texture and didn't throw the gauge off. Did I mention the three cheers part?)